Born: 8 February 1931
Died: 30 September 1955 (automobile crash)
Birthplace: Marion, Indiana
Best known as: Movie icon and star of Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean appeared in only a handful of films, the best-known being East of Eden
(1955, from the novel by John Steinbeck
), Rebel Without a Cause
(1955, with Natalie Wood
) and Giant
(1956, with Elizabeth Taylor
and Rock Hudson
). Thrust into stardom almost immediately after his first big role, Dean was a sexually ambiguous, sensitively intelligent Angry Young Man whose dramatic intensity lit up a generation of filmgoers. His untimely death, in a high-speed car crash, guaranteed his canonization as a tragic American cinema legend. Besides his three "big" pictures, Dean had bit parts in the movies Fixed Bayonets
(1951), Sailor Beware
(1951, with Jerry Lewis
) and Has Anybody Seen My Gal?
(1952, with Rock Hudson
); according a timeline on the official site of Dean's estate, he also worked as an extra in Trouble Along the Way
, a 1953 film starring John Wayne
as a college football coach.
Both Giant and Rebel Without a Cause were released after Dean’s death… Dean was driving a Porsche 550 Spyder when he died… Dean was a member of the prestigious Actors Studio in New York; his fellow alumni include Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro… According to the James Dean official site, his first professional acting job was a 1950 Pepsi commercial “in which a group of teenagers dance around a jukebox singing ‘Pepsi-Cola hits the spot’”… Dean is no relation to country singer and sausage king Jimmy Dean.
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